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Shanghai Knights

Starring: Owen Wilson, Jackie Chan, Fann Wong, Thomas Fisher, Aaron Johnson and Aidan Gillen
Directed by: David Dobkin
Rated: PG-13


Shanghai Knights (the Shanghai Noon sequel) has some freakin' hysterical moments. Of course you've got to check your logical side of the brain at the door before you settle in...

This time around the miss-matched duo of Roy O' Bannon and Chon Wang played by Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan head off to merry old England circa 1887. They find themselves kung fu-ing and sneaking (Roy) around some soon to be legends of the era and toying with some props that frankly if one took a pause to rolodex the catacombs of their historical knowledge would instantly realize there's flaws in that there scene! But don't pick too deep just enjoy! Because historical inaccuracies aside Shanghai Knights is a frolicking action packed hootenanny!

Story goes…Chon Wang (Jackie Chan) has been contacted by his sister back in China. She tells him their father has been killed by evildoers that were after the oh-so-important Imperial Seal their family had the honor of guarding. For some reason the seal can make or break the land…. go with it.

When his sister Chon Lin (Fann Wong) follows the bad guys to London, Wang and his bumbling self-centered sidekick, Roy (Owen Wilson), hit the high seas after her.

There's an underlying and treacherously intricate plot forming…okay, that's a lie. But they are about to meet the sinister creep behind all the bad doing. The ominous and treacherously smarmy Rathbone (Aidan Gillen). Rath's tenth in line to the thrown of England, and is as cute as he is wicked! Meow. He's made a deal with the man who would be Emperor, one Wu Chan (Donnie Yen). Apparently Wu just needs that seal and all of China will be under his rule
(Mahwahahwha <- diabolical laughter ). Rathbone in return, needs Wu Chan's new fangled machine gun invention to shorten his line to the thrown.

That's pretty much the plot. "Roy's" inability to function as a decent human being is still very much a big part of the knee slapping humor. And "Wang's" delightful dances with derelicts fill the action part of the script. He makes high kicking and lunge slapping look so easy you'll be tempted to take a Martial Arts course at the gym!

Unable to resist the love subplot, Shanghai Knights ads the unlikely matching of Roy with Chon's little sister Lin. Naturally she finds Roy charming and handsome against her big brother's better judgment. Women never do see men for the creeps they are do they? Roy falls smitten in a big way too. He may even change his conniving self-centered ways for the lassie.

So as love and the queen's upcoming 50th jubilee converge it becomes apparent the fate of the monarchy rests on the bad-guy stomping abilities of Chon, Roy and Lin …and a couple of misfits they've hooked up with; an adorable little Dicken-esque street urchin, Charlie (Aaron Johnson) and a deductive Scotland Yard detective named, "Artie" ( Thomas Fisher).

What makes Shanghai Knights work so well is the clever under current running for adults; both sexually and historically. Again Owen smoothly ricochets the punch lines, while Jackie Chan is still as amazing as ever in his choreographed fight scenes. The whole family can watch politically correctly. Silent film buffs get a few added treats as the duo has a few classic tidbits folded into the mayhem.

And though studmuffin wise Owen "Inspector Clouseau Nose" Wilson's not the sweetest manly torte in the hearth of the lust fires, he definitely commands the screen and has a special drawl to his jokes. In lesser hands they'd come off stale and over the top campy. As always he's wonderful - if still not as sweet on the retina as brother Luke.

Jackie Chan is a lightening bolt. Man can this guy move - still. What's he 60? I mean he's been kickin' kung fu ass for something like 45 years - do the math! He does his own stunts to boot. Remarkable.

Fann Wong is a gorgeous talent. They pretty much keep her the generic China doll fantasy …but she's still a super chickbabe able to take down a gaggle of goons with one hi-ya!

Director David Dobkin (who did the wonderful Clay Pigeons) captures Jackie's intense acrobatic talents and Owen sarcastic quippings purrfectly! There's a number where Jackie Chan is in battle with a Bowery of hoodlums and suddenly he grabs an umbrella. Then in one of the most entertaining action sequences in the history of cinema he manages to pull of an homage to Singin' in the Rain (Gene Kelly's triumphant hoofing theme-song scene) that mesmerizes you at its grace and precision. I for one already put in a pre order for the DVD so I can view it again. Enjoy!

Snack Recommendation: Dim Sum and Beer.



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